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Afakasi Daughter of the Pacific Islands

I am a bull from the year of the pig

I was born from volcanoes

and scrubbed in the salt of the Pacific,

shaped by the unknown


White clouds from colder weather

pollinated a sultry land      

and like seafaring coconuts

my siblings and I were scattered,

transplanted on various soils,

involuntarily grown in alien dirt

emerging with hybrid souls


I have briefly seen the view

of my birth place through the lens

of the woman who raised me, my palagi mother

It is exotic, military

and ripe with sad memories

as metallic as buildings,

as green as Jurassic mountains


The haole colonists cast their wealth

like blooms of an invasive species

eating the islands’ wild hearts and

littering the water as they shred

the commanding and holy waves


Locals break their spines

like bleached coral  

Their bruised Aloha spirit

decomposes under the aroma of pikake leis


Kilauea speaks


I am landlocked and homesick

listening fiercely to the voices

that send me alofa,

love from across the ocean


I stare hard at an Afakasi face,

the woman who contracted me into the world

Her black slice-of-a-moon eyes

tell riddles that are safe with me

because they are a hammered tattoo,

malu that I will never be able to read


I am ready for the Siva Samoa

to move my naked feet,

to dance with my sisters,

throw fire with my brothers

and if favored, be received by my ancestors


[TJ Herron is an emerging writer and graduate student in the MA English Creative Writing program at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. Her poems and fiction are an eclectic mix of genres. She is currently working on a collection of creative non-fiction essays that follow her journey of discovering her Pacific Island roots. TJ has published in the program for Lemonade the Lecture, a week-long series at UTC about Beyoncé’s album, and in Clemson University’s literary magazine Chronicle.]